The story in the book “Seeing Jazz” has a quote from Mary Lou Williams (found in the third frame) about an experience she had in Kansas City. I feel like Mary Lou liberated herself from her bed with just a couple of pebbles and her fingers. And then she went on to liberate her fellow musicians from whatever all they were going through at the time, simply with her presence. I find the story of her friend throwing rocks at her window and asking her husband for permission so she could go play piano in the middle of the night deeply satisfying. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s about liberation and how liberating ourselves allows us to share that grace with others.
I feel like when you go on a journey, questioning your past and yourself to dig up all the dirt it’s like looking in a mirror, with all the criticisms and negativity and darkness staring back from the abyss, directly at you. It’s like a pile tarnished silverware or forgotten, buried treasure, covered in dirt and grime. When you take away the tarnish and you take away the dirt, you still have the essence of the object, just cleaner and more potent. I’m not saying liberating yourself from your past or current circumstances is easy. But I am saying it might worthwhile of your consideration. It might be worth giving up the safe life you live as you know it, all of the difficult, troubling, dark nights of the soul, plumbing into the depths of the nooks and crannies of trauma our loved ones and life has dealt us, in order to take that top layer of grime right off, if only to see what’s going on underneath.
I’m still plumbing my depths, on a quest leading to I’m-not-sure-where. So far, I can’t feel anger at my father, which according to the experts I need to feel in order to heal. But when I think of him, I understand that his devastating illness gave me a beautiful life, one in which he raised me himself, protected me from my mother’s barbs when he could, and gave me my most precious gifts. Grace, compassion, the desire to understand others, care-taking, reading, thinking deeply, taking in nature with awe and respect, athleticism, getting up after you fall down, forgiving yourself. I don’t feel anger about his psychiatric condition, and I didn’t when he was alive. I did, most certainly feel fear, because when he was having an episode and the wheels were completely off, there was sort of a power or energy around him that made the hair on the backs of your arms and on your neck stand completely on end. But, even that had me walking down a pathway trying to understand the psyche, the collective unconscious, and compel Jungian ideas to be my own. Particularly using all these years of martial arts and meditation, a year of therapy, working on my own internal energy. Maybe if I could understand my own energy, I could understand his. Or maybe if I could understand his energy, I could conquer my own. Two sides of the same coin.
I feel that I used my metaphorical fingers, when I became Dmitri’s mom, to untie all the knots in D that kept him in a state focused solely internally, and in doing so I untied all the knots in both of us.
This is a long winded way of stating, that after all these years of working on myself, I feel more like myself.
I’m thankful to the woman who said, “white women, please stop co-opting other cultures and investigate your own roots.” Because I did, and in the process I found myself again, and most importantly, reconnected with my muse. But first, I gazed at myself in my dark mirror, empty and alone, until she appeared and made us both whole.
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Six years ago I walked away from everything that fed me. It was akin to jumping head first into the abyss. All these years since it’s been me desperately trying to hail my creative muse on the phone, the line ringing and ringing and ringing but no answer. The good news is, She finally decided to take my calls.
There’s more I could write about anger, in myself, and my mother, but I think I’ll leave that for another muse and another time.